This blog is dedicated to those who have walked this path of heartache and misunderstanidng, as well as those who are taking their first steps. Regardless of what has brought you here, we welcome you with a spirit of compassion. When the world says, "Give up!", FAITH says, "Give it one more try." C.S. Lewis once said something profound... "You do not HAVE a soul, you ARE a soul... you HAVE a body."
♥♥♥ Cammie never hesitates to share her life and experience with others. The fire in her heart is an inspiration in my life. She's definitely got the spirit of an activist and has a passion for matters of equality. I'm proud of her courage, convictions, and passion for life. She teaches me so much, makes me laugh, and gives me an indescribable strength...
So much time has passed since we began our journey to understandig. We have come to learn and grown in unique and powerful ways. We have a testimony of what gender is, what it is not, and how it impacts life. We know that gender identity exists between the ears, and not between the legs. Everything that makes us divine, spirtual beings... those unique attributes that define who we are (character, personality, temperament, and so forth) orginate in our mind and spirit. Our physical bodies... fingers, toes, genitals, arms, legs, torso, hair and eye color, even the diseases or deformities that we may suffer - have absolutely no bearing on our identity... moreover, "WHO" we are. Above is a voice recording that Cammie made one day when she was feeling a need to express her thoughts and feelings about her life, and what it's like to be gender variant... to live with this circumstance. It touched my heart and I wanted to share it. Perhaps there people out there living with these challenges who need to know they are not alone. Maybe there are parents, friends, and family members struggling to understand... or it could be that those who visit us here are curious or intriqued, and would like to know more. There is no greater teacher than experience. Cammie gave me permission to share her private thoughts with you and the correlating pictures that captutre her life.
Cammie is eleven now. She's head strong... yet optimistic, and she continues to move forward on this unique journey with profound optimism and a humble pride (strong testimony of "self"). She has faith in the world around us. She looks for the good in others. One day, she believes people will see beyond social expectation. She believes that the imperfections in her body will become insignificant in comparison to "who" she is... the beauty of the spirit, the beauty of the mind, and spiritual conviction.
I hope that someone out there will learn something from her words. Children are innocent and pure... they almost always speak the truth. Much love to all... and may God bless each of us with each step of our spiritual journey...
Her enduring spirit is inspirational.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light...
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven...
It's been over a year since we supported Cammie's decision to liver her life consistent with her gender identity . Cammie is growing up, but more importantly, she's growing up happy. What more could any mother hope for than that... A warm smile every day that radiates self-assurance and security. I always thought God sent his children to us so that we could teach them. So very many parents get it all wrong. They miss out on the opportunity to learn from their children. God sends his children to teach us. Each one is packaged full of opportunities for miracles in learning and spiritual growth, but if you're not paying attention, those opportunities will pass us by like feathers in the wind... what a very sad failure. I am so very thankful for the personal and spiritual growth that I have been blessed with this year... for all that I have been taught through the strength and courage that radiates from my beautiful daughter.
She is often my rock, my teacher, and my inspiration. No doubt, she is one of the greatest blessings in my life. I thank God each day for the "curse" that has become my greatest spiritual and intimate blessing. God is good... he loves us, but the moment we begin to think we know him and completely understand his will in our lives... we inevitably fall short. God wants humble children. It's our responsibility in life to learn the importance of charity and humility in our relationship with our Eternal Father. If we begin to think we understand all things... we will, inevitably, face a turbulent journey. God will teach us patience, humility, and charity. If we refuse to learn... he will continue to teach. C.S. Lewis said it best in his search for truth...
Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable. ~C.S. Lewis
The real problem is not why some pious, humble, believing people suffer, but why some do not.~C.S. Lewis
The safest road to hell is the gradual one - the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.~C.S. Lewis
And my favorite of all (probably because it reflects my stubborness in spiritual obedience)...
There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, "All right, then, have it your way."~C.S. Lewis
Cammie is such a strong, courageous, vivacious young woman... she continues to amaze me each day. A little over a year... and it's difficult to express the personal and spiritual growth. A couple of days ago, I came home to find her steadfast and focused. She was diligently writing a letter. Her poor little hands could hardly keep up with her thoughts. I asked what she was doing. Her response surprised me... "I'm writing a letter to the Jefferson County Board of Education." I continued by asking her what the letter was about. She simply said, "My rights." She finished the letter and I promised to help her mail it. I didn't read it at first because I wanted to give her the freedom to express herself freely... without parental influence. Prior to mailing the letter, I read it - then neatly addressed it and sent it off (attached below). I understand reality. Most likely, her precious words won't change a thing... at least for now, but I felt an inexplicable pride swell in my heart with the knowledge that I have been blessed with a child who has the courage to stand up for what she believes in... a child with the heart and conviction to change the world regardless of the challenges stacked against her. She has such inner strength... such courage. It's truly a beauty to behold.
Our children are the future. There's such peace in knowing that I have somehow managed to raise a child who isn't intimidated by the "status quo" or circumstances as daunting as her own. She represents the beautiful mind of a new generation. I am absolutely in love with my precious revolutionist. She, as all my children, is such an amazing gift from God. ;')
Family, the MOST sacred of all blessings... (recent family portrait link)
Jefferson Board of Education Attn: Board Members 2100 18th Street South Birmingham, AL 35209
Dear Board Members:
My child, Cammie Johnson, is gender variant. She was born a natal male, but during fetal development, there was an insufficient testosterone level during the androgen bath to adequately form male gender identity markers in the BSTC subdivision of the gender marker cells in the pituitary gland of the brain stem... which results in children with a gender identity opposite of the gender assigned at birth. This is a profound trial for these children. Research studies show that 36% of gender variant children will attempt suicide by the age of twenty if not treated with the appropriate support which entails acknowledging that gender exists between the ears and not between the legs – then raising these children likewise. Leukemia doesn’t have mortality rates as high as the suicide risks associated with this condition. The best practices that have been published in the Medical Journal of Metabolism and Endocrinology, recommend hormone blockers at stage two of pubertal development (approximately age 12 – which pauses puberty until the age of sixteen… at which time these children can make the decision that is right for them concerning hormone replacement therapy and reconstructive surgery – also recommended in cases such as Cammie’s).
I have met several other families within the state that have gender variant children. This is not an uncommon condition, but it is seldom heard of because of social “taboos” and the pressure parents feel to force gender conformity / obedience on their gender variant child. I have been blogging about our experience with Cammie since before we allowed her to live her life consistent with her gender identity. This was a very difficult time for me and I have included a blog card in the event that you would like to learn more about us, this medical condition, and the circumstances and challenges that have impacted our lives. Additionally, there is an excellent book titled “The Transgender Child” written by Stephanie Brill – if you are interested in learning more about this.
Cammie is VERY strong with strong convictions about who she is. I came home the other day and she was writing a letter to the Jefferson County Board of Education… as she put it, “about her rights”. I haven’t read the letter, but I have supported her in expressing herself and thus am forwarding it to you. Thank you for allowing her the opportunity to express herself. Please contact her back. She needs to know that she has a voice… and regardless of individual ideals, she needs to be heard.
I have been meaning to write this post for several days. Last week it rained incessantly and I couldn't seem to shake the "blah's". My heart was heavy, burdened with some new challenges in my life. As I scurried across the street with the hope of making it to the office dry, my umbrella was blown inside out and I was pounded with a shower of wind and rain. The aggravation of the morning was compounded by the fact that my mind was weighed down with worry and concern over all of the day-to-day challenges and nuances of life, and I couldn't help but recognize the irony of the situation with a proverbial thought... "when it rains, it pours."
I made it into the building and locked myself up in my office, lay my head down on my desk, and took a deep breath. In that moment... my mind began to shuffle through the recent events in my life. An entourage of reflections paraded through my head, and I attempted to make sense of it all. I love math... and I'm very good at it. I have noticed that when I encounter an obstacle... I gather my understanding, plug it into a rhetorical "equation" for life, then focus intently on the various components in an effort to calculate the value of "E" (as in "experience").
I began to think about my life, my beautiful children, and the overwhelming challenges that we have been given. I have four children... each child is gifted and unique, and several of my children have special needs that demand an overwhelming amount of time and attention.
Cammie was 10 years old when we grew to understand "who" she is through the realization that people cannot be identified by what they look like, but rather should be embraced for "who" they are. Through that experience, we have learned that spiritual observation is much more important than social expectation. Another one of my young children was diagnosed with severe ADHD when he was six years old. Without medication, getting him dressed can be an emotionally and physically exhausting experience... an experience that parallels bull riding (except we NEVER seem to make it 8 seconds before losing our "grip"). Then, my youngest child (who began to make odd noises, clearing his throat and grunting, a couple years ago) recently began to experience additional verbal and physical "quirks" that seemed inconsistent with normal development. After exploring several possibilities, these "abnormal behaviors" were diagnosed as verbal and motor tics - consistent with a neurological chronic tic disorder known as Tourette's Syndrome. The diagnosis had been weighing on my mind as I grappled to come to terms with the unique needs that surround me... needs that frequently make me feel overwhelmed and maternally inept. As I sat there at my desk with my head buried in my arms... an experience from years ago took charge in the forefront of my mind.
I was seventeen... my best friend and I were on our way to town. We had taken great care to make sure that every hair was in place... that our make-up was perfectly applied. We must have primped for hours. We had made plans for a perfect Saturday outdoors but as we made the lengthy trip toward town, the clouds grew dark and heavy. Within minutes we were surrounded by a downpour of rain. I flew into a tantrum, completely enraged that our plans had been spoiled... my day was not going as anticipated. I pulled to the side of the road and watched the rain flood the windshield in waves as we tried to determine what to do with our new found situation. Among other things, we discussed going to a movie or going home. We sat there for a moment and quietly weighed our options. I remember that moment distinctly and the events that followed. As I sat there in my office last week and reflected on this experience, I recognized a parable, with a profound moral for many of the experiences in my life...
On that day, sitting on the side of the road in the rain, I became acutely aware of my deteriorating attitude. I love to smile and laugh... I wanted to enjoy my day. In an attempt to recover my mood, I tried to pinpoint the source of my aggravation. I began to analyze the situation...
"Why am I so upset?"
... "I'm frustrated because of the rain."
"Why am I so frustrated by the rain?"
... "Because I don't want to get wet."
Then I realized that I couldn't think of a single reason (outside of vanity) to justify the way I felt. In that moment, I looked at my friend and said, "Let's learn to love the rain."
After a brief conversation, we enthusiastically embraced the notion. Then, dressed in t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops - without a raincoat or umbrella - we stepped out of our frustration and into one of the best days of our life. Facing the sky with our arms outstretched - we allowed the rain to soak our clothes, drench our hair, and scour the make-up from our faces. Carefree and uninhibited - we ran, danced, and splashed through puddles. I felt literally "cleansed" as I began to experience the freedom of expelled expectations and abandoned limitations while we wholeheartedly embraced the possibility of that moment. I felt a unity with nature and my divine creator as I experienced a genuine transformation in perspective.
As I sat in my office last week and reflected on that experience, I couldn't help but draw a parallel to my life today... to the challenges that weigh me down... to the way my attitude often impedes possibilities. I thought about my beautiful daughter and the joy that I have experienced as I have come to know her, truly know HER. I thought about the joyous blessings that have come through the freedom of unconditional love and acceptance. I thought about her smile, her laughter, and the beautifully vivacious personality that has emerged in our home and in our life through the freedom of self-expression. I thought about little TAZ and the never-ending reserve of energy that makes his endearing spirit shine. Then, I thought about my precious baby boy and the challenges introduced by the new diagnosis in his life. Once again, I couldn't help but ask the question... "Why am I so upset?" My thoughts drifted back to a very poignant lesson learned, years ago, on one of the best days of my life...
"I'm frustrated because of the rain."
... "Why am I so frustrated with the rain?"
"because I don't want to get wet."
In that moment I thought about my beautiful children and remembered how very much I love them. It occurred to me...
Some of the most profound blessings in my life have been realized during challenging moments in the rain. As I Face the sky with arms outstretched, I thank God for the beautiful gifts that have taught me that it's okay to get wet...
With each challenge in my life I am learning to view the world from a beautifully unique perspective...
With every opportunity for spiritual growth afforded by life's experience, I am blessed to catch a glimpse of the world through His eyes. I am thankful for the divine gifts of an Eternal Father who's influence and blessings are teaching me profound principles.
This sounds a little corny... but I have come to view organized religion as a reality based representation of the "Force" on Star Wars! What an amazing gift it is to have the kind of power that comes from a community of faith! However, we need to be cautious and aware. Any strength that can be used for good, can also be used to the detriment of that which is good. This is perhaps best illustrated by a world history riddled with holy wars, crusades, and persecution exercised in the name of a divine entity. When practicing faith, regardless of religious shroud, we have a responsibility not to get so caught up in our own ideals, objectives, and perspectives that we we fail to acknowledge God's divine purpose in life and the experience it provides. I have come to realize... If we truly had all the answers, we wouldn't be taking the test.
My thoughts on gender variant children... As the mother of a gender variant child, I was a little disappointed in a recent television program that seemed to exploit gender variant children. These children are not "freak shows" or objects to be "sensationalized" or "pathologized". The reality is that EVERYBODY who demonstrates any variation from the book meausure of "normal" can be clinically categorized as having a pathology. Who among us doesn't have a pathology??? Who really cares??? These are children and people... with an identitiy no different than yours and mine... THEY KNOW WHO THEY ARE and WE NEED TO LISTEN TO THEM, not dismiss them because they are children... and certainly not dismiss them because they are different. The truth is... there is nothing wrong with these people. The problem comes from a surrounding LACK OF COMFORT WITH THEIR SELF-EXPRESSION, AND OBVIOUS VARIATION FROM TRADITIONALLY ACCEPTED NORMS. We need to nurture the spirit. We need to embrace identity and allow people to express themselves for WHO they are so they can grow up to be the beautiful, gifted, amazing INDIVIDUALS that God created them to be. When will we quit cramming people into boxes and realize the beauty of diversity??? When will we abandon judgement and accept all people for the unique eccentricities of their divine nature??? This is what Christ's example has taught me... He has taught me to love and accept my child... and, more importantly, to LISTEN TO and BELIEVE her.
Sometimes the trials that people experience do not have NEARLY AS MUCH TO DO WITH THEM, THAN THOSE WHO NEED TO LEARN AND GROW FROM THEM. I think everyone who is blessed to know or come in contact with a gender variant child needs to ask themselves.... WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO LEARN FROM THIS CHILD??? Only then, will God's pupose in all of this become known. Conversion of the heart doesn't come from arguing opposing viewpoints/positions... it comes from truth... from sharing testimony... and from the power of the spirit. This is true, not only of experiences in a church pew... but in all of aspects of life. I have a testimony of WHO my child is and I thank God every day for helping me to see the truth... for allowing me to SEE HER BEAUTY THROUGH HIS EYES. This is my testimony... and I'm thankful for it.